This afternoon, I got outside and worked a bit at cleaning up the chicken run. We’ve been blessed with some wonderful rain (our drought was pretty serious the last few years) . I measured 8 inches of rain water in a bucket by the chicken coop- all since Monday afternoon. Our annual average rainfall is 50 inches, so we almost received 20% in less than a week.
I love the air and the skies around here after it rains. Towering clouds, fresh air and you can almost see for 100 miles when driving down the hill while overlooking the Sacramento Valley. I let the chickens out of their spacious run and they wandered about our side yard. Soon I found myself lost (or perhaps found) in watching them peck throughout the yard. I was leaning against the fence, my breathing relaxed, and time seemed to have stopped. Can’t explain why watching chickens be chickens does that to me…very zen-like. When I realized how present I was in that moment, I no longer was…and I remembered something I said to a co-worker, I very much respect, not long ago. I received an odd look, as I often do when I really say what I am thinking and I usually feel like the only person in the world who thinks a particular way. I get over it though. What I said this time was, “You know chickens are really good at being chickens.”
Since raising this flock, I noticed that chickens are fully absorbed at what they do. They celebrate and brag about every egg they lay. They spend their day in perfect harmony with their skill set. My co-worker said, “Of course, they are..they are chickens.” I then followed up with “and you know what else, my dog Gracie is really good at being a dog. She is fully engaged in her dog-ness. Every morning between 4:30 and 6:00 am, I know that her nose is going to be poking my face. If a raccoon comes up to the back, she going to try to run through the back door while it is still closed, and when I come home from work, she is going to leap up on me with a wagging tail as an insult to my dog training abilities.” Again the reply, “Of course, she is a dog.”
I considered ending the conversation there because the next part would get even messier, but I didn’t. “Well, we are humans. We can sing, act, write, dance, paint, and love like no other thing on earth. We can build, teach, learn, explore, repair, and inspire… yet we spend the vast majority of our time engaged in mind numbing activities…absorbed with worry about opinions of others, engaged in gossip, and withholding our love even for those we love the most. We criticize, we use sarcastic humor even making fun of those who sing and dance. We want power and influence and authority and things.” My co-worker now viewed this as somewhat of a debate and replied, “That is because we have a brain, a big brain.” I wasn’t in the debating mood because I realized that I didn’t really need a conversation partner, even one that I liked and respected. This conversation was between me and myself. So I said out loud to myself, “I just wonder what life would be like if I were as good at being a human being as my chickens are at being chickens?”